Percutaneous Disc Decompression (Nucleoplasty)
Decompressing the nucleus of the disc is a proven technique for relieving disc herniation, and for treating the pain symptoms it causes. Similar to letting air out of a bicycle tire, removing tissue from the center of a disc causes a reduction of pressure within the disc. This in turn leads to a reduction in the pressure that the disc applies to other parts of the body, such as nerve roots or the spinal cord.
Herniated disc compressing nerve root, causing pain flare in back and down leg
To perform the procedure, a micro-engineered alloy transmitter is introduced into the disc while the patient is awake, requiring only a topical anesthetic and light sedation. Radio wave signals are sent through the transmitter into the jelly-like nucleus of the herniated disc. The radio waves produce a low-temperature ionized gas that breaks up molecular bonds in the spongy nucleus, removing tissue volume.
Decompressed disc with herniation and symptoms relieved
Normally, the entire procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes, and the patient is ready to walk out of the clinic in about an hour with no hospital stay required. Percutaneous disc decompression is designed to offer a fast-acting option to drug therapies and steroid injections, on the one hand, and a minimally-invasive alternative to open surgery, on the other.
Some forms of disc decompression are performed through a minimally invasive catheter or needle. This type of procedure performed through the skin, or 'percutaneously', minimizes trauma to the patient and allows for shorter hospital stays and faster recovery than traditional open surgical techniques.
Percutaneous disc decompression has been used in the treatment of herniated discs for over 40 years and in over 500,000 patients. A variety of techniques have been used to decompress discs, including chemical, mechanical and thermal/heat (radiofrequency and laser) methods. While the basic mechanism of percutaneous disc decompression has been well understood, each of the previous methods has had big limitations. No method has adequately addressed all of the issues inherent in disc decompression until Nucleoplasty.